From “Pay It Forward: Follow Our Ministry’s Lead for
Partnering With — and Blessing — Your Local Schools”
(Children’s Ministry Magazine, July/August 2009)…
Children’s ministries can have a huge impact on local schools —
in so many ways! Just like the children’s ministry at New Hope
Church in New Hope, Minnesota, our church has had great success
partnering with our local school. (See “Pay It Forward (CMM
July/Aug 2009.) And our church is small, with only about 250
people. Here’s what our children’s ministry at Crosstown Covenant
Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is doing to partner with our
local public school, Lake Nokomis Community School.
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• Open Doors — God opened the door for me to
go to a fifth grade class twice per week for 45 minutes to help
students with basic tutoring. I wanted to volunteer at the school
but didn’t know if the school needed help. Then God orchestrated
chance conversation where the school’s social worker mentioned to
one of our church members that the school needed tutors. God put it
all together. Eventually word spread, and two others from our
church joined me in going to the school to tutor kids.
• Partnerships — The school is in an area with
a large Hispanic population. So it was only natural to our church
to consider an outreach event for Cinco de Mayo. We found out that
the school did a celebration, so we asked if we could help them
with a carnival for families. We provided 10 to 12 volunteers to
help with games and food booths, and we’ve done this for three
• Events — Our pastor and I met with both
school principals, first at the school, and then at our location.
Out of these meetings, the school asked whether they could use our
building for the fifth grade musical and the sixth grade overnight.
We enthusiastically agreed, and we’ve sponsored those events for
• Special Requests — During our time working
with the schools, they’ve begun asking us for specific help. “Do
you have anyone who could help with our library move for a few
days?” “We’re having a workday for teachers. Do you have anyone who
could come and do activities for the kids of parents who are
working?” “Would your church be our emergency site?” Of course, we
Last year, the school principal asked if we’d be interested in
having an after-school program meet at our facility. We began that
program in the fall of 2007. We had between 25-35 kids attend for
homework help and special activity classes such as cooking, tying
blankets for orphanages, making Christmas ornaments, building
pinewood derby cars, assembling health care bags for homeless
families, pottery making, and more.
• Good Will — One really cool thing is that
the principals and staff and parents of the school all speak of the
“partnership” they have with Crosstown Covenant Church. The
students’ parents have held two spaghetti supper fundraisers in our
facility and think it’s the perfect place. From that parent
contact, we became the site for the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby Race.
In fact, their leaders asked us to provide a supper and charge for
it to raise funds for any mission project our church might have —
a win-win! Every group that uses our building makes posters and
hangs them all around the school and community with Crosstown
Covenant’s name plastered on them — giving God’s church a face in
• Appreciation — Two years ago, we began an
appreciation dinner for the teachers and staff of the school. We
invite 30 to 40 staff to come to our church for lunch on a work day
when teachers have to be a school but kids have the day off. We
serve a sit-down lunch and our church members serve them. They’ve
been amazed and delighted by this gesture.
God has done this great work in our community and as a result
our church has become a part of the neighborhood. The school has
initiated the majority of the ideas for sharing space and
resources, and we strive to do whatever we can to partner with
them. We’ve seen students cross over from the after-school program
to our children’s ministry. And, the kids and families from our
neighborhood recognize that our church is a place where people care
and their children are welcome and safe.
Deb Laws is the children’s pastor at Crosstown Covenant
church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.